Winter activities such as cross-country (nordic) skiing and snowshoeing at Mesa Verde can be a very peaceful experience. Many times you may be the only person around. Because most of the trees are bare, wildlife is more visible in the winter. You may even be able to find their tracks in the snow.
Pets are not allowed on the trails. Pedestrian traffic is not allowed on the groomed trails; see below for places to enjoy a nice walk.
Nordic Skiing Locations
Groomed Trails: These trails will be groomed for classic and skate skiing as conditions allow.
Morefield Trails (map): Park at the Morefield Campground Store for access to the following trails. The groomed trail begins between the store and the laundry mat, look for the trailhead register.
Cliff Palace Loop Trail (map): Park at the north end of the Chapin Mesa Museum parking lot. Follow the groomed trail to the Mesa Top Road and Cliff Palace Road intersection. Cross the Mesa Top Road and follow the Cliff Palace Loop road which will eventually loop back to the Mesa Top Road and Cliff Palace Road intersection. Lastly follow the groomed trail back to the museum parking lot. Due to its distance this trail is rated as moderate but the terrain is relatively flat. Numerous cliff dwelling viewpoints are available along the way. Total roundtrip distance is 6.5 miles.
Snowshoeing Trail Locations
Snowshoers must travel on designated snowshoe trails, or fresh snow (ungroomed surface). If a groomed trail is designated as mixed use (snowshoe and ski) snowshoers must travel at the edge of the trail opposite the classic ski tracks. Classic ski tracks are set to the edge of the groomed trail and will have two parallel tracks about 8 inches apart running parallel with the groomed trail. Walking without snowshoes is not permitted on any groomed trails.
Morefield Trails (map): Park at the Morefield Campground Store for access to the following trails. The groomed trail begins between the store and the laundry mat, look for the trailhead register. Distances noted are after branching off the groomed ski trail.
Prater Canyon: CLOSED
Park Point: Park in front of the Park Point gate just off the main park road. Parking is limited. The trail follows the road up to the fire lookout. This trail is rated as easy to moderate. Total distance is 1.5 miles round trip.
Wetherill Mesa Road Trail: CLOSED
Far View Sites Community: Park in front of the Far View Sites gate. Parking is limited. The trail follows the road to and around the various mesa top archaeological sites. This meandering trail is rated easy. Total available distance is up to 1 mile.
Spruce Canyon Trail (map): Once there is snow, the gate to the trailhead is closed. Winter trail access is from the Chapin Mesa Picnic Area, with return the same way. You may park in the Museum parking lot or near the picnic area, along the headquarters loop. The winter trail starts just beyond the entrance to the picnic area, on your right (look for pink flagging). Total distance is 2 to 4 miles, depending on trail conditions. Due to elevation gain and distance this trail is rated as difficult.
Soda Canyon Overlook Trail (map): Park at the north end of the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum parking lot. Follow the groomed trail to the Mesa Top Road and Cliff Palace Road intersection. Cross the Mesa Top Road and follow the groomed Cliff Palace Loop trail to a Y-intersection. Take the left path to the Soda Canyon Overlook Trailhead just north of the Balcony House parking lot. Due to the distance this trail is rated as moderate. Groomed trail from parking lot to trailhead is 1.75 miles. Ungroomed Soda Canyon Overlook Trail from groomed trail to overlook is .75 mile. Total distance, round trip is about 5 miles.
Walking Trail Locations (without snowshoes)
Petroglyph Trail (mesa top portion) (map): Park in the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum parking lot. This trail starts just behind the museum on the paved path to Spruce Tree House. The trail ends with a view into Navajo Canyon. The end of the trail is marked with a sign; travel past that point is not permitted. Unfortunately due to ice and snow dangers the petroglyph panel cannot be accessed. Total round trip distance is 3 miles.
Chapin Mesa Rim Trail: Park in the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum parking lot. This path leaves from the museum and goes along the canyon rim with views of Spruce Canyon. The trail includes a stop at the historic Chapin Mesa amphitheater before it exits at the Spruce Canyon Trail and returns to the museum. Total distance is 1.5 miles if only walking from the museum to the exit of Spruce Canyon Trail and back.
Last updated: November 26, 2023